Wed, 26 Feb 2020

Afghan security forces and Taliban fighters clashed in the central province of Ghazni where a U.S. military plane crashed, officials and the militant group say, as the government tried to reach the wreckage site.

The U.S. military says a Bombardier E-11A aircraft, used for electronic surveillance over Afghanistan, crashed in Deh Yak district on January 28, but disputed Taliban claims to have brought it down.

The military did not say how many people were aboard or if there were any casualties.

Afghan security forces were on their way to the crash site late on January 27 when they were ambushed by Taliban fighters and pushed back, according to provincial police chief Khaled Wardak.

The site "is being covered by the Air Force. Some say there are two bodies there, but some people there say there are more,' Wardak told AFP on January 28.

Reuters quoted the official as giving different figures: 'As per our information, there are four bodies and two on board were alive and they are missing.'

Ghazni police spokesman Ahmad Khan Sirat confirmed the fighting and air presence, adding that at least one person was killed in the battle.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said Afghan forces backed by U.S. military support tried to capture the area around the wreckage.

He said Taliban fighters on the ground counted six bodies at the site of the crash.

Unidentified U.S. officials were quoted as saying the plane was carrying fewer than five people when it crashed.

The crash came as the Taliban and United States have been in talks on ending the 18-year war in Afghanistan.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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